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Art Deco nostalgia inspires Gucci collection

Gold and black trimmings, feather handbags and dinner jackets: the new Gucci spring-summer 2012 collection at Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday leant heavily on some of the most iconic images of Art Deco.

Like ball-goers emerging on to the deck of a luxury cruise liner at dawn circa 1932, androgynous-looking models swept down the catwalk with chiffon neck scarves fluttering in the wind and gold belts twinkling in the meagre light.

The Sheraton hotel in Milan which hosted the hotly-awaited show was decorated to match with gold mosaic columns, muted colours and hard lines.

"I wanted to explore an optical side of feminine beauty by creating a sculptural glamour for the Gucci woman," said Frida Giannini, the highly acclaimed creative director at the French-owned fashion house.

"It's a fusion of elements of our DNA, starting with the history of design and photography. It's the opulence of the era of hedonism," she said, likening the designs to famous images by legendary Art Deco photographer Man Ray.

The look was more strictly elegant than seductive. As Gucci put it in a statement it was like "a cross between Metropolis and Blade Runner."

The models' heavily mascaraed eyes added to a feel of decadent glamour.

The straight lines and the shimmering quality of the dresses made the sullen-looking models look like outlines of iconic New York skyscrapers.

The collection was well received, judging by the murmurs in a very multilingual press gallery that included a large contingent from Japan.

There were cheers too and even a standing ovation for Roccobarocco's show earlier on Wednesday, where the theme was more "Arabian Nights" with a collection shown off to the sounds of late British blues singer Amy Winehouse.

The fashion house said its inspiration was the Arab world "seen through the eyes of a romantic 19th century traveller dazzled by new colours and scents."

Nature was also a strong inspiration - with coral patterns printed on chiffon shirts, as well as flowery leggings and zebra-themed skirts.

The biggest cheers came when the models emerged with jewel-encrusted brassieres - as if from the harem in an explorer's fervid imagination.

Apart from the micro-skirts, plunging necklines and see-through overshirts which left little to the imagination, there were also more modest designs including sand-coloured tunic style trouser suits and flowing chiffon skirts.

But viewers were left with the distinct impression that these were the bad girls of a James Bond movie seducing the spy in some far-flung oasis - maybe with a weapon disguised in the elaborate bracelets wrapped around their arms.